Nick Matthew column: Positive England must re-earn the right to play

Sheffield's Joe Root
Sheffield's Joe Root

It is very unusual in Test cricket that a team dominates a whole match.

There will normally be an hour or session where the other side hits back. The beauty of Test cricket is you get those peaks and troughs.

Apart from the first hour of the first day, England were on top throughout against Australia in the first Ashes Test and deservedly clinched a 169-run victory in Cardiff. The match seemed to change when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin dropped Joe Root on nought in the first innings and the Sheffield batsman went on to hit 134 runs.

It was a fantastic result for England and refreshing to see them play in such a manner. It is very easy for people from the outside to say they should play a positive brand of cricket but I can tell you from experience it’s not as easy as that.

If, for example, I play a more expansive, attacking game on a squash court and make a string of errors then people say ‘you are making too many mistakes’. If you get out to a reckless shot, you get flak for it so you can’t win.

I would be very surprised if they went on to win the series 5-0 because when you are trying to change a mindset, there will be times when you overcook it a little bit.

Whenever you’ve had success in sport, that’s when you are at your most vulnerable and have to revisit the basics from the word go. You have to do the simple things well. England will have to re-earn the right to play their positive cricket when the second Test begins at Lord’s tomorrow.

*We are so blessed and lucky to be in a great era of men’s tennis. The way Novak Djokovic is playing right now he looks as if he can surpass Roger Federer’s tally of 17 Grand Slam singles titles.

Because Djokovic has been competing in Federer and Rafael Nadal’s era, I don’t think he, or Andy Murray for that matter, get the credit they deserve. But after retaining his Wimbledon crown, Djokovic has now won nine Slams which puts him ahead of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. It is a pleasure to watch the ‘Big Four’ in action and, on the women’s side, Serena Williams just looks unbeatable. There is no reason why she can’t win all four Slams this year.

*It was good to see record crowds turn out to watch Women’s Super League sides last weekend. England won the bronze medal recently at the World Cup in Canada so they are riding the crest of a wave and long may that continue.